What to do if your child suffers from bullying?

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Learn how to identify and treat this problematic

In an interview with LatinAmerican Post, Dr. Darío Quimbay, a psychiatrist at the La Paz Clinic in Bogotá, affirms that bullying is "all aggressive, deliberate, and repetitive behavior that causes discomfort to the person object of those behaviors". According to Quimbay, bullying affects the life quality and can produce psychopathological disorders because "bullying can occur physically, verbally, or psychologically in different contexts such as cybernetics."

Although bullying is mostly registered among students, bullying can occur between a teacher and a student, or vice versa. Additionally, there are other scenarios in which bullying can be presented, such as at home, work, among others. Therefore, Quimbay emphasizes that while children and adolescents are the most visible victims of this problem, adults are not exempt from harassment or bullying.

According to Law 1620 of March 15, 2013, issued by the Colombian government, "bullying has consequences on the health, emotional well-being, and school performance of students and on the learning environment and school climate of the educational establishment "

How to identify if you are suffering from bullying?

According to Quimbay, if a student is being victim of bullying, he / she may present the following behaviors:

Physical evidence: Bullying can be physical or psychological. In the first case, the victims are usually beaten, blackmailed, or humiliated. The abuser can hit his victim leaving obvious signs such as bruises, scratches, broken clothing, among others. Similarly, the person who suffers from harassment can request money from their parents without offering a logical explanation.

Additionally, the child or adolescent may lose personal items on a regular basis as he or she may be a victim of theft.

Psychosomatic phenomena: Those who suffer from bullying have symptoms and health discomforts such as:

  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Palpitations
  • Anxiety
  • Alterations of appetite
  • Alterations of sleep, among others.

These situations arise due to the assistance to the place where they are mistreated. Usually, children or adolescents get sick the day before or in the morning as a method of protection to avoid frequenting the place where they are bullied.

Behavior and mood change: The boy or girl behaves differently than he / she usually does. Traditionally, victims of bullying:

  • They lose interest in attending the educational institution
  • They avoid doing activities related to the school
  • They lower school performance
  • They do not communicate with their parents and peers
  • They give up their extracurricular interests, among others

On the other hand, the child or adolescent can become aggressive with members of their immediate environment as a defense mechanism. However, it is important to note that this change may not be sudden, but rather happens slowly. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to changes in mood and behavior to detect the origin of the transformation.

The consequences of being a victim of bullying include:

  • School absenteeism
  • Poor school performance
  • Psychopathologically and psychosomatically disorders
  • Lack of belonging to the educational institution

How to prevent bullying in educational environments?

Quimbay stresses that within a school, a School Committee of Coexistence must be established to promote, prevent, attend, and follow the mechanisms of defense and approach to bullying. In the Colombian case, Quimbay adds, the Committee is mandatory in accordance with Law 1620 of March 15, 2013.

One of the pedagogical tools is the Manual of Coexistence, since it creates a pact of good practices among all the members of the educational community. Likewise, it is a mechanism that is used in conflict situations because it evidences ways to address the problems and the respective solutions or sanctions as the case may be.

Strategies to deal with bullying should:

  • Be impartial, fair and just
  • Reestablish violated rights
  • Repair the damage caused
  • Establish protective measures in case of danger
  • Generate spaces to expose what happened
  • If necessary, inform the respective authorities (Police, Public Prosecutor, among others)


Latin American Post | Marcela Peñaloza
Translated from “ ¿Qué hacer si su hijo sufre de bullying?”